725. Mardi Gras in Multicultural Toronto – 2017

Ruth writes: I spent a week in early December in New Orleans and loved it. I was therefore delighted to discover that its Mardi Gras is being celebrated in Toronto on February 25 – well at least some of the music, the masks, and probably its yummy pralines.

The price is higher than I’d like to mention in this blog but at $20-$25 it isn’t too bad. But I couldn’t resist wanting to relive some of the music I heard in New Orleans – traditional jazz live on almost every street corner in the French Quarter, and the mainly Gospel concerts which we heard for free in December in its churches.

Street Band in New Orleans. Image Copyright ©2017 Ruth Lor Malloy

Promoted at the St. Andrews Church event in Toronto are primarily the Gospel classics and rocking Spirituals such as Swing Low, Sweet Chariot and This Little Light. And the performers will include famous names like Jivaro Smith (of Kinky Boots, The Lion King), Alana Bridgewater (of the Nathaniel Dett Chorale, We Will Rock You), and Gospel-singing sisters Amoy and Ciceal Levy.

Talk of the Mardi Gras parade while we were in New Orleans discouraged me from wanting to go there for its main celebration this month. The actual day is February 28 but parades there start in January and continue all of February. Hotel and restaurant prices are much higher then. Streets are more crowded. They were already packed every evening in early December.

Mardi Gras is 47 days before Easter. It is the day before Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent, a time of prayers, fasting and almsgiving.  Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday is a good excuse to party wildly while people can.

The parades through the French Quarter are mainly for white folks. I learned about the alternative parades in the nearby district of Treme for the “Mardi Gras Indians”. If I were to go, that’s the celebration I would want to join. Their parades reflect the traditions of the descendants of “native Indians” and African slaves. At the Whitney Plantation, one of New Orleans many tourist attractions, I saw reminders of its painful past.

Statues of slave children at Whitney Plantation. Image Copyright ©2017 Ruth Lor Malloy

Meanwhile, back in Toronto, there are probably many Mardi Gras celebrations going on, but the one at St. Andrews Church appeals to me because of the Black history of New Orleans. It’s on February 25, 7:30-10:30pm. King Street West and Simcoe Street near the St. Andrew subway station. Tickets and Description: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/mardi-gras-2017-oh-happy-day-tickets-31259820966?aff=es2

Please let us know of other free or affordable Mardi Gras events, or any other events reflective of our multicultural city. Please write to me at: ruthlormalloy@gmail.com.



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